St. Charles woman doesn't crumble under pressure, wins Food Network's Halloween Cookie Challenge

Surrounded by about 30 friends and family for a watch party Monday night in St. Charles, hobbyist baker Liz Suwanski said it was "surreal" to see herself on Food Network's Halloween Cookie Challenge.

And after keeping the results of her episode secret for months, the cat, or in this case the creepy doll cookie, finally was out of the bag - Suwanski won against three other contestants and took home the $10,000 prize.

"It was a little bit of an out-of-body experience," she said. "I had forgotten so much about that day because it was so fast paced and so long and so short at the same time. We're just on the go and running all over and just baking our little hearts out."

The season finale of the show featured two challenges. The first involved making a Halloween-themed slice and bake cookie, something Suwanski said she'd never attempted before.

"It's kind of heralded as being this ridiculously challenging thing, not because it's so hard but because the time you have to do it is very short," she said.

Her haunted house slice and bake got her through to the next round, and the enthusiasm for the flavors from hosts Duff Goldman and Rosanna Pansino gave her confidence a boost.

"I was thrilled with the reaction, they were just super excited about it so I was very happy that they wanted to have seconds," she said.

The second round was more in her wheelhouse, with a three-dimensional cookie featuring a haunted mirror. Suwanski's inspiration was a creepy doll she brought from home that was featured frequently in the episode.

"That was great because immediately I thought haunted mirror, haunted doll trying to come through the mirror," she said. "It all came together."

The idea was a winner as she beat out the other two finalists. As little as she remembered about the long day of baking, she remembers even less about the moment she realized she'd won.

"I went into this like fugue state and have no idea how long I was there," she said. "I was doing this laugh-cry and I don't know how long they had to wait for me to be able to start talking again."

Suwanski said she hopes to get a chance to appear on another cookie competition show, but if she doesn't she's happy she didn't crumble under the pressure this time.

"I surprised myself. I was actually kind of proud that I managed to hold it together because it could have gone either way," she said with a laugh.

Hosts Duff Goldman and Rosanna Pansino flank winner Liz Suwanski of St. Charles after she was named the winner of the season finale of Halloween Cookie Challenge on Food Network. Courtesy of Food Network
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